ICAJ student Shamala Miller obtained the highest mark in the Caribbean for P4 (Advanced Financial Management) from the June 2015 sitting of the ACCA examinations. ICAJ extends heartiest congratulations to Shamala on this achievement and shares with you her journey to success.
Shamala grew up in the Kingston inner-city community, dubbed the ‘Gully Side’, Cassava Piece, where she was raised by Elvy Ferguson (grandmother) and Renick Miller (father), who later migrated. Her father was always her constant motivator as he provided words of encouragement and used his own life experiences to give guidance.
She attended Excelsior High School, where she exhibited a positive attitude to both her academics and extra-curricular activities. As a result of her hard work and consistency, she was successful in achieving seven (7) subjects in the CXC examinations, inclusive of all the business related subjects. She also received the PTA Award for Academic Excellence and the Business Studies Award for the graduating year of 2006. Despite growing up in a tough community and the struggles she endured growing up, Shamala was determined to rise above and beyond any challenge. She believes that you can attract the right experiences that you want in your life through effort, prayer, commitment and grace.
After graduating from 5th form, she attended the Ardenne High school at the sixth form level for one year, after which she progressed to the University of Technology, Jamaica (UTech). During her final year at UTech, Shamala served as the Finance Chairperson for the Accounting Seminar, a practical and theoretical one-year course during which students demonstrate an appreciation for various aspects of business. In her role as Finance Chair, she led the finance team, prepared financial statements for the seminar and other reports, as well as liaised with other members of the Executive team. This gave her ample opportunity to exercise her considerable talent for teamwork and love for accounting. In November 2011, Shamala graduated with a Bachelor’s degree (Hon.) in Accounting and Finance.
After university, Shamala joined Deloitte and Touché, where she started to pursue the ACCA qualification and worked for two (2) years. She began working at PwC Jamaica in September 2013, where she continued to grow and is further developing her career in auditing/accounting. The training and experience obtained from both companies boosted her confidence and motivated her to become the best in her craft. Shamala intends to take her career to the highest possible level and strives to become an example to those looking for a breakthrough in her field. She was recently recognized at PwC Jamaica for excellent team work and exceptional performance of regular duties, and as a result, a token of appreciation was given to her at PwC’s recognition function. As a result, she felt extremely positive and confident about herself and her ability to contribute.
Shamala’s ACCA Journey
When asked about her ACCA journey, she stated, “when I just started pursuing the ACCA exams in 2012, I struggled; I failed miserably at the fundamental level. Failing your exams can be one of the most devastating experiences for a student, especially when you have a very demanding job and others counting on you to excel. Furthermore, it is truly daunting if you are not use to failure.”
In 2013 when she started PwC, her attitude towards exams changed, as the new environment placed a big emphasis on personal, professional and career development, including passing exams. In addition, most of her co-workers were excelling at their exams, which she really found motivating. “I was encouraged to do my best”. After all, they only employ the ‘brightest and the best’.”
Shamala completed the fundamental level in two sittings and started the professional level; obtaining better grades than the fundamental level, which some may consider the easier of the two. Today, as she celebrates another academic achievement with the highest mark in the Caribbean for P4 (Advanced Financial Management) from the June 2015 sitting of the ACCA examinations, she says that this came with a lot of sacrifices, which she was prepared to make to get the best results. She noted, “I am sure we have heard the saying ‘failure makes you stronger,’ and I am a living testament of that.”
Shamala also stated that, “exam failure is one of the many hurdles you will have to surpass in your life, and there are always possibilities to learn and rise above failure. Do not allow fear, failure, frustration, lack of money, discouragement or any temporary setback to kill your dream. Believe that you can use any stumbling block as a stepping stone to a better life.”
It is said that, “when we seek to discover the best in others, we somehow bring out the best in ourselves.” At times when her colleagues complain about feeling stressed and hopeless about exams, she would tell them about her experiences and tips on how to study and pass, even when she felt the same way. . She would also advise them to continue to believe in themselves and be surrounded with people who believe in them. “Continue to stand your ground and work as hard as you can with everything within you. Hold the vision of what you want. Say to yourself, ‘no matter how bad it is, or how bad it gets or where you are from ...I'm going to make it!’.”
Without the continuous guidance, support and motivation from her family and friends, as well as prayer and faith, none of the abovementioned accomplishments would be possible. She is especially grateful to her PwC family for their efforts and continued support, which has greatly aided her progression through the exams so far.
Shamala is now one paper short of being accepted to the professional body of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), which she believes will further strengthen her career and will open up greater opportunities.